(Matthew 24:15-21) “So when you see standing in the holy place ‘the abomination that causes desolation,’ spoken of through the prophet Daniel-let the reader understand-then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. Let no one on the roof of his house go down to take anything out of his house. Let no one in the field go back to get his cloak. How dreadful it will be in those days for pregnant women and nursing mothers” Pray that your flight will not take place in winter or on the Sabbath. For then there will be great distress, unequalled from the beginning of the world until now-and never to be equalled again.”
The Bible clearly teaches that just before the Lord Jesus comes back there will be an Antichrist. He will in fact be the last in a long line of antichrists that have come going all the way back to the Book of Genesis itself. There have been many antichrists and they were around in the first century during the time that the Apostle John was alive. John mentions this when he said, “Dear children, this is the last hour; and as you have heard that the antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come. This is how we know it is the last hour.” (1 John 2:18) The first century believers always lived in the expectancy of Jesus’ return and when you look at time from God’s perspective a thousand of our years are like one day to Him (2 Peter 3:8). So they could say even then that they were in “the last hour.” The first century believers expected the Lord Jesus to return in their lifetime so they always lived every day in the light of His Second Coming.
Now just as there were many antichrists around in John’s time there have been many antichrists down through history and there are undoubtedly many antichrists today, however, there will be an ultimate Antichrist. Once again look at what the Apostle John said. He writes, “Dear children, this is the last hour; and as you have heard that the antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come. This is how we know it is the last hour.” (1 John 2:18) All previous antichrists were demon-possessed men but this guy will be an incarnation of Satan himself embodied in a flesh and blood man. The Only two people to be called “the son of perdition” were Judas Iscariot and the man of sin who is still to come. Judas was actually possessed by Satan himself and the final Antichrist will also be possessed by Satan. There were four major types of the Antichrist in history.
1. Antiochus Epiphanes.
When the Lord Jesus spoke about “the abomination that causes desolation” in Matthew chapter twenty four verses fifteen to twenty one He was referring to the Seleucid Greek general who devastated Jerusalem and the Jewish nation around 160 years before Jesus Himself was born. The Lord Jesus was speaking about a past event that actually happened in history and said very clearly that it would happen again at the end of this present age. The name “Epiphanes” itself means “god manifest” and this despot was one who exhibited the spirit of antichrist. He was not a godly man but totally the opposite who had no regard for God or for His word. His enemies called him “Madman” as he was very violent and cruel. In fact he was one of the cruellest rulers at that time in history, a total despot who slaughtered innocent women and children.
Antiochus first approached the Jews with the pretence of a benefactor. The apostate Jews were prepared to make concessions with Antiochus. Some saw through his deception but said nothing. Daniel tells us how Antiochus deceived those who were unfaithful to God or had compromised. “With flattery he will corrupt those who have violated the covenant. “(Daniel 11:32) His reign lasted for around seven years and then his army was finally defeated by the Maccabees and he was forced to withdraw his forces from Israel.
Selling Israel out!
Right now Israel’s leaders are selling the Jewish people out as they contemplate giving up more of the land to the superpowers. This of course is also a deception. God’s Word tells us that in the end Israel will be betrayed and attacked by all the nations. Now Israel has always in one form or another tried to make peace treaties with other nations that have the power to offer them protection. Of course nothing has changed. We have seen numerous peace treaties made in the Middle-East but none of them have lasted. In the Prophet Isaiah we read of a treaty that will be activated in the last days that will be for Israel “a covenant of death.” Isaiah prophesied about this when he wrote, “Therefore hear the word of the Lord, you scoffers who rule this people in Jerusalem. You boast, “We have entered into a covenant with death, with the grave we have made an agreement. When an overwhelming scourge sweeps by, it cannot touch us, for we have made a lie our refuge and falsehood our hiding place.” (Isaiah 28:15) This peace agreement will be such that Israel will eventually become a land recovered from war, a land without walls and bars, an unsuspecting people living securely in the Land of Israel. Suddenly and without warning they will be attacked by all the nations surrounding them. In Ezekiel chapter thirty-eight these nations are specifically named and they are all Islamic nations today. Of course we are told in the books of Joel, Zechariah and the Gospels that all nations will attack Jerusalem just before Jesus comes back. Israel will be betrayed by the very ones they had trusted in to protect and support them.
The Obama Legacy
When Barak Obama first ran for the Presidency of the United States he promised Israel support as a nation and that Jerusalem would be their capital and that America would support defensible borders for Israel. Of course around 6 years later Obama played a different tune as he “hobnobbed” with the Oil Sheiks of Saudi Arabia and sucked up to Islamic leaders especially in Iran. During his administration from time to time he entertained Islamic leaders in the White House, leaders who were against Israel. In fact in several speeches hen extolled the virtues of Islam while virtually ignoring the atrocities occurring in Islamic countries. Furthermore, he entertained leading members of the Muslim Brotherhood who openly declare they are working for global Sharia law and the establishment of the global supremacy of Islam. Right now the Muslim Brotherhood is systematically overthrowing Middle-Eastern governments to replace the leaders of the countries with their own leaders who will enforce Koranic Sharia law on the populace. In Egypt the new president is one of their own! Right now in America, Europe, England and even in Australia there is an Islamic “Trojan horse” a “fifth column” seeking to bring about the downfall of Western democracy from within. They are populating society, working in Government positions and infiltrating our Universities and Educational Institutions.
The abomination of desolation
Now the “abomination of desolation” perpetuated by Antiochus did not suddenly happen but came after a period of compromise by the Jewish leaders. Antiochus had an agenda to unite all peoples of his kingdom in religion, law and custom and even issued an edict to this end. Antiochus also issued prohibitions against observing the Sabbath, practicing circumcision and keeping all Jewish food laws. He also introduced cult prostitution. Eventually many Jews not only went along with his agenda but also actually ended up participating in the pagan rites he introduced. What followed was the abomination itself. As Daniel wrote, “His armed forces will rise up to desecrate the temple fortress and will abolish the daily sacrifice. Then they will set up the abomination that causes desolation.” (Daniel 11:31) Antiochus desecrated the altar of burnt offering by offering up the sacrifice of a pig on it and then erected an image to the Greek god Zeus. Not only that but the Jewish people were actually forced to participate in the pagan Greek festivals and anyone who was even caught with a copy of the Torah was put to death. Daniel also tells us that Antiochus actually thought he was a god. Daniel wrote; “It set itself up to be as great as the Prince of the Host; it took away the daily sacrifice from Him, and the place of His sanctuary was brought low. Because of rebellion, the host (armies) of the saints and the daily sacrifice were given over to it. It prospered in everything it did and truth was thrown to the ground.” (Daniel 8:11-12)
The Faithful Maccabees
Now Antiochus met resistance from a faithful remnant called the Maccabees. These patriots came from a priestly family who saw through the deception perpetrated by Antiochus and started a guerrilla war against him. Many of them were slaughtered and betrayed by false brethren who joined their ranks pretending to be fellow patriots but in reality were traitors. Daniel also tells us about these events when he prophesied, “With flattery he will corrupt those who have violated the covenant, but the people who know their God will resist him. Those who are wise will instruct many, though for a time they will fall by the sword or be burned or captured or plundered. When they fall they will receive a little help (Judas and the patriots) and many who are not sincere (false brethren) will join them.” (Daniel 11:32-34) And again Daniel writes, “He will destroy the mighty men and the Holy people.” (Daniel 8:24)
Persecution of the saints
This is precisely what Antiochus did to the Jewish nation and the Antichrist will do the same thing. What Antiochus did was foreshadowing what the Antichrist will do at the end of this age. The Antichrist himself will come in the character of Antiochus and this was what the Lord Jesus was conveying. In fact he will come from the same geographical area that Antiochus came from. Turkey will be a main player in this end-time scenario. Just as Antiochus persecuted the faithful Jews so the Antichrist and his empire will persecute the Jews and the Christians just before Jesus comes back. The Apostle John speaks about this last “Beast Empire” when he wrote, “He was given power to make war against the saints and to conquer them. And he was given authority over every tribe, people, language and nation.” (Rev 13:7). And again Daniel writes, “As I watched, this horn was waging war against the saints and defeating them.” (Dan 7:21) Now the word “saints” used in the books of Revelation and Daniel is not restricted to the Jews but relates to every true believer whether Jew or Gentile. In fact the word used for “saints” in the book of Revelation is the standard New Testament word used for Christians. Of course God will limit the time of this last persecution to three and a half years by the Lunar Calendar. As Daniel wrote, “It will be for a time, times and half a time. When the power of the holy people has been finally broken, all these things will be completed.” (Dan 12:7)
This man will devastate the Nation of Israel and bring upon them a holocaust worse than the one perpetuated on the Jewish people by Adolph Hitler. Zechariah wrote concerning this tragic future event. “Awake, O sword, against my shepherd, against the man who is close to me!” declares the LORD Almighty. “Strike the shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered, and I will turn my hand against the little ones. In the whole land,” declares the LORD, “two-thirds will be struck down and perish; yet one-third will be left in it. This third I will bring into the fire; I will refine them like silver and test them like gold. They will call on My name and I will answer them; I will say, ‘They are My people,’ and they will say, ‘The LORD is our God.’ ” (Zechariah 13:7-9) The devastation to Jerusalem and the destruction of the Temple by Rome in 70AD foreshadowed the future devastation that would be perpetuated by the Antichrist’s forces at the end of this present age. Multitudes died in 70AD at the hands of the Romans, however, when the final invasion of Israel and the assault on Jerusalem comes two-thirds of the Jewish people will perish in the Land of Israel. Indeed Israeli’s need to hear the gospel more than ever today as Paul said, “first to the Jew and then to the Gentile.” Yes it is true that they are returning to Israel and that many are being saved today. Yes it is true that Israel became a nation again in 1948. Yes it is true that God is re-gathering His scattered people and bringing them back to Israel from the nations to which He had scattered them and as yet there are still many more to come. However, God is bringing them back for the Time of Jacob’s Trouble also called the Great Tribulation.
Not by human power
Now Antiochus Epiphanes was defeated, the Seleucids driven out of Israel and the temple reconsecrated. As Daniel wrote; “Yet he (Antiochus and by extension the Antichrist) will be destroyed, but not by human power.” (Daniel 8:25) The same thing will happen to the Antichrist and his empire when Jesus comes back to rescue Israel, the faithful Church and to judge the nations. The Antichrist will appear on the world scene as a mighty general and politician with great charisma, power and authority to command many nations to follow his agenda. Multitudes of apostate Christians and those of other religions will support him and many western governments will try to appease him and in some cases actually oppose him but in the end he will reveal his true character when he desecrates the Temple Mount in Jerusalem with the final abomination of desolation. At that time the whole world will be plunged into a nightmare of global chaos death and destruction unparalleled in history and never to be equalled again! Listen again to what the Lord Jesus said, “For then there will be great distress, unequalled from the beginning of the world until now—and never to be equalled again.” (Matt 24:21) When the Antichrist appears only those “who are wise” will understand because his deception will be hidden from the majority at the time he is first revealed to the world. The faithful remnant of believers will try to warn others as the Maccabees did in their day and like the Maccabees multitudes will be systematically hunted down and martyred for their faith by the Antichrist and his Beast Empire.
2. Titus the Roman General.
In 68 AD Vespasian with the Roman army laid siege to Jerusalem however due to a political crisis in Rome he withdrew his legions for a very brief time and returned to Rome where he was crowned Emperor of Rome. At that time all of those who believed what Jesus had said around forty years before escaped from the city and were miraculously protected as they passed unseen through the remaining Roman lines. Simeon, who had replaced James as the pastor in Jerusalem, led them out of the city. King Herod had killed James with the sword years before.
In 70AD the Roman army returned in full strength led by Titus Vespasian’s oldest son and he kept up the siege until the city fell into their hands. After the Temple had been demolished Roman soldiers set up pagan emblems on the Temple Mount and worshipped them declaring political dominion over the house of God. This was another “abomination of desolation” just like the one perpetuated by Antiochus Epiphanies around 200 years before. Josephus the Jewish historian who actually witnessed these events mentioned this in his writings. The Lord Jesus accurately prophesied this historical event and it occurred exactly in the way He said it would happen. Listen to what He said about this, “When you see Jerusalem being surrounded by armies, you will know that its desolation is near. Then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains, let those in the city get out, and let those in the country not enter the city. For this is the time of punishment in fulfilment of all that has been written. How dreadful it will be in those days for pregnant women and nursing mothers! There will be great distress in the land and wrath against this people. They will fall by the sword and will be taken as prisoners to all the nations. Jerusalem will be trampled on by the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled.” (Luke 21: 20-24)
Another ‘abomination of desolation’
Matthew, Luke and Mark all record what Jesus said. The Holy Spirit in His wisdom revealed the same truth to all three men but showed them different aspects of what Jesus was talking about. The unique feature of Matthew’s gospel is that that the “abomination” would not only occur around forty years later but would happen again at the end of this present age by the Antichrist himself. This context is clearly seen in what the Lord Jesus said, “For then there will be great distress, unequalled from the beginning of the world until now—and never to be equalled again.” (Matthew 24:21) Just as the faithful believers escaped from the city in 70 AD just before the judgement fell, so the faithful believers at the end of this age will escape the bowls of God’s wrath. As the Church ascends the fire descends. As the Church goes up the wrath comes down! This is how it will be at the Second Coming of the Lord Jesus Christ. What Titus and Hadrian actually did teaches us about what the Antichrist will do when he attacks Jerusalem and desecrates the Temple Mount at the end of this present age.
3. The Roman Emperor Hadrian.
In the Second Century there was a rebellion perpetuated against the Romans in Israel by a man called Bar-Kochba. Evidently someone called Rabbi Akiva promoted this man as the Messiah and deliverer of Israel. What followed was a blood bath against the Jewish nation that effectively ended the war between the Jews and Imperial Rome. Hadrian was so determined to destroy the Jewish identity as a nation that he rebuilt the city of Jerusalem and erected a temple to Jupiter on the Temple Mount. This was another “abomination of desolation.” In the years following the revolt, Hadrian discriminated against all Judeo-Christian sects, but the worst persecution was directed against religious Jews. He made anti-religious decrees forbidding Torah study, Sabbath observance, circumcision, Jewish courts, meeting in synagogues and other ritual practices. Many Jews assimilated and many sages and prominent men were martyred including Rabbi Akiva who had declared Bar-Kochba as the MeSsiah. This age of persecution lasted throughout the remainder of Hadrian’s reign, until 138 AD. This devastation was worse than 70AD. After this final purging of the Jewish nation there were no more major revolts against Rome.
4. Mohammed the founder of Islam.
Today an “abomination of desolation” stands on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. The Dome of the Rock Mosque has an inscription of a quote from the Koran written around the outside of the Mosque as well as on the inside that says that, “God has no Son” and also mentions a denial of the Trinity. John tells us in his first letter whoever denies the Father and the Son’s relationship in the Godhead is the Antichrist. Mohammed, the founder of Islam, was familiar with Jesus teaching and even though Mohammed believed Him to be a prophet actually denied that Jesus was the Son of God. This is the clear teaching of the Koran and lies at the heart of the Muslim faith. Islam denies the Sonship of Christ. Just a few quotes from the Koran say the following; “In blasphemy indeed are those (the Christians) that say that God is Christ the son of Mary” -Surah 5:17 (Yusuf Ali) and again the Koran says; “The Most Gracious has begotten a son”! You have uttered a gross blasphemy. The heavens are about to shatter, the earth is about to tear asunder, and the mountains are about to crumble. Because they (the Christians) claim that the Most Gracious has begotten a son. It is not befitting the most gracious that He should beget a son” -Surah 19:88-92 (Rashad Khalifa). And yet again we read; “the Christians call Christ the son of Allah. That is a saying from their mouth; (in this) they but imitate what the unbelievers of old used to say. Allah’s curse is on them: how they are deluded away from the truth!” -Surah 9:30 (Yusuf Ali).The Koran literally pronounces a curse on those who believe that Jesus is God’s Son. People who say such things utter “gross blasphemies” and are likened to “unbelievers” or “infidels.” Without question then, in this regard, Islam is an antichrist religious system. Islam also denies the Trinity and the same claim of blasphemy is also applied to those who believe in the Trinity. The Koran also says this; “They do blaspheme who say: Allah is one of three in a Trinity: for there is no god except One Allah. If they desist not from their word (of blasphemy), verily a grievous penalty will befall the blasphemers among them” -Surah 5:73 (Yusuf Ali).
Allah is not God
In the light of present events in the Middle East and the global expectation of Muslims waiting for the arrival of the 12th and final Mahdi of Islam it is possible that the abomination will have its final and fullest expression through a Muslim general who will come in the character of Mohammed and stand on the Temple Mount demanding to be worshipped as God. Certainly the Mosque is the most prominent sign historically as it was first erected in the year 688AD. Before this time Christians and Jews could freely worship in Jerusalem and on the Temple Mount. Islam is not a religion of peace but a religion of war and bloodshed. Allah is not the God of the Bible at all but the ancient Mesopotamian moon god of war. All over the globe Islam persecutes Christians and even in the Koran there are quotes that tell Muslims to hate and to destroy Jews and Christians that they also call “the people of the book.” Ironically there is a photograph of the late Pope kissing the Koran! Some time ago now the present Pope was seen praying in a Mosque! The great apostasy is well and truly here! Remember it is the final great apostasy of the Christian Church that will bring the Antichrist to power. (2 Thessalonians 2:3-4)
In the character of Antiochus
So then the Antichrist himself will come in the character of Antiochus and will be a fierce and cruel dictator with great political and military power. Just before the Lord Jesus comes back his forces will attack Jerusalem and he himself will desecrate the temple mount and proclaim himself to be God. However the one thing that must occur on a global scale is the apostasy of the Professing Christian Church. When you look at the trends, the fads and the doctrines being perpetuated in the Church today especially in the western nations it is very clear that “The Apostasy” is well under way! As we conclude this first study let’s not forget what the Apostle Paul said; “Don’t let anyone deceive you in any way, for that day will not come until the rebellion occurs and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the man doomed to destruction (the son of perdition). He opposes and exults himself over everything that is called God or is worshipped, and even sets himself up in God’s temple, proclaiming himself to be God.” (2 Thessalonians 2:3-4)